The Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) inducted the late Johnnie Lee Roper, Douglas commissioner, Richmond Hill Mayor Harold Fowler, and Warner Robins City Attorney Jim Elliot, into the Municipal Government Hall of Fame at the association’s annual convention in Savannah Monday, June 26.
The Hall of Fame honors municipal officials who exemplify the best in public service, and who, throughout their careers, have made extraordinary contributions to their communities and Georgia’s cities.
Roper began his service to the city in 1985, where he was serving his ninth term up until his death on March 20, 2017. From 2004-2007, he served as Mayor Pro Tem of the Douglas Commission.
“Johnnie Lee Roper left a legacy as big as his smile,” said GMA Executive Director Lamar Norton. “He was a tireless champion of the Miracle Field playground. He raised approximately $70,000 for its construction, and when it’s done, it will serve as a regional facility for South Georgia children and adults.”
Roper served the Concerted Services Head-Start Program and was the co-founder of “Building the Bridge,” where he was instrumental in providing college scholarships to young people in the community. He served on the South Georgia Regional Commission Board of Aging, and throughout his tenure, was a strong supporter of GMA. He served as a district officer, as a member of the GMA Board of Directors and as a member of the Legislative Policy Committees. He was also a proponent of continuing education, completing 234 hours through the Harold F. Holtz Municipal Training Institute.
“Mr. Roper epitomized public service,” said Norton. “The Convention this year has not been the same without him in our presence. He is missed.”
Fowler began serving as mayor in 2009, following 10 years on the city council. Under his leadership, the city revamped its city ordinances to maintain the small-town quality of life residents enjoy, added 187 acres of green space, implemented a sidewalk initiative to add pedestrian-friendly connectivity and acquired land for a 51-acre park to include civic space, retail and restaurant space and a Town Center. In addition, the city launched a program to greatly reduce flooding in low-lying neighborhoods and increased police patrols in city neighborhoods.
Other accomplishments include attracting new industry, restaurants and businesses to the city and opening a new state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant to help accommodate the city’s future growth.
“Even with all this keeping him busy leading his community, Mayor Fowler has also found time for GMA,” said GMA Executive Director Lamar Norton. “He’s served as a district officer, as a GMA Board member and been active in the Mayors’ Christmas Motorcade every year since he became mayor.” In addition, Fowler has completed 147 hours of training through the Harold F. Holtz Municipal Training Institute.
Elliott began working for Warner Robins in 1985 and throughout his career has served eight mayors and numerous councilmembers. During his 32-years of service, he has played a vital role in virtually every project, program and initiative completed in the city. Current and past Mayors and Councilmembers have long entrusted him with critical projects that contribute to the betterment of the city and its residents.
His dedication to GMA and municipal officials around the state is also remarkable. A frequent speaker at GMA events and a popular instructor in Municipal Training Institute classes, he is a face many GMA members know and have come to trust.
He currently serves as a member of GMA’s Legislative Policy Council and GMA’s Federal Policy Council.
In 1990-1991, he served as President of the GMA City Attorneys’ Section and a member of the GMA Board of Directors in this capacity. Other past involvement in GMA has included serving as Chair of a GMA Task Force on Municipal Judges and Law Enforcement Officer Training, and a member of GMA’s retirement and insurance boards.
His commitment to local government law is further evident through his service as Chair of the Local Government Law section for the State Bar of Georgia, and the Southeast Regional Vice President for the International Municipal Lawyers’ Association.
“Jim is always ready and willing to lend his expertise and insight to GMA and his fellow city attorneys,” said GMA Executive Director Lamar Norton.